Fran’s curry

My oldest, (sorry, dearest) friend Fran was bemoaning the lack of curry on the Hecichera site. This one is for you, remembering the many curries you’ve eaten at ours.  All of them meat. Never a vegetable in sight.  Had the cheek to tell  me this week that there is far too much green stuff on the photo’s!  Confirmed carnivore that she is, this is a special curry that will evoke memories of midnight hockey, milk trains, Bungay, beer in Southwold, cocktails in Montpelier Square, Singing in the Rain, MDF on Hayling Island, poppies, scatter cushions and many others.

Dry roast the following:  3 teasp cumin seed, 2 teasp coriander seed, 3 cloves, 2 black cardomom, 6 green cardomom, a 2.5cm stick of cinnamon, a scattering of chilli flakes.  Toast them gently and then remove from the pan.  Cool them slightly.  Then dry roast 4 tbsp urud dhal, cool and then grind in a coffee grinder or pestle and mortar with the roast spices.  Add 2 tbsp grated coconut.  Leave out the coconut if you dont like it.                       Add 1 tsp turmeric to the mixture.

If you prefer, use a good quality curry powder or paste – but you won’t get the gorgeous depth of flavour as you do when you grind your own spices.  It’s not difficult, and the more you do it, the more you can adjust the flavours to suit your palate.

Put two large onions in a food processor and chop them small, remove and add the spices, two tbsp tomato puree, 100ml yogurt and 2 tsp salt.  Add this loose spicy paste to 1kilo diced lamb – shoulder or leg is good.  Mix well, cover and preferably leave somewhere cool overnight.

Then fry another chopped onion with a chopped fresh chilli or two in plenty of oil and remove from the pan.  If you don’t want it hot, simply remove the seeds from the chilli. The more seeds you leave in the hotter it will be.  Add the lamb in batches and sear till browned, taking the lamb out as you go and adding more.  Don’t add too much or the lamb will simply steam and sweat (not pleasant).  When it is all browned, return to the pan and add two tins chopped tomatoes and one tin of water.  Stir the sticky bits off the bottom of the pan then bring it to the boil then leave on a low heat gently simmering with the lid off for about 3 hours.  Taste the sauce and check the seasoning.  It should be thick and rich and sticky.  The Urud dhal is a lovely addition, making the sauce slightly nutty but the combination of the sauce reducing and the dhal thickening makes the sauce spectacular, deep red and with great depth of flavour.  Just before you serve, take off the heat, stir in 1 tbsp soft brown sugar and a cube of butter.

Serve this with rice, naan bread or flatbread.  The addition of a coriander chutney is divine.

For the chutney, in the small bowl of your processor chop one chilli, three cloves of garlic, a pinch of sugar and a large bunch of coriander.  Add half a tin of coconut milk, a pinch of salt and the juice of a lime.  Process till it is smooth and bright green.  This chutney packs a punch but its flavour is so bright and tangy, it works well with the rich lamb.

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